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The RespectAbility Report Posts

Maryland Democratic Party Gubernatorial Candidates Fail To Address Disability Issues At Education Forum

Annapolis, MD, January 18 – Earlier this month, seven of the Democratic candidates for Governor of Maryland gathered online for a forum on education issues affecting Marylanders. The event, which was hosted by Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Yvette Lewis, was an opportunity where the candidates could have addressed issues for the 98,188 students with disabilities enrolled in Maryland’s K-12 school system. However, disability issues were not specifically discussed and none of the candidates mentioned the word disability during the forum.

Said Philip Kahn-Pauli, who leads candidate outreach for the disability nonprofit RespectAbility, “Sadly, all of the Maryland Democratic candidates for Governor earned an “F” today due to their failure to address the issues that impact students with disabilities.” Of the students with disabilities enrolled in Maryland’s K-12 school system, there are 257 American Indian or Alaska Native students with disabilities, 2,991 Asian students with disabilities, 40,262 Black or African American students with disabilities, 16,203 Hispanic/Latino students with disabilities, 103 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander students with disabilities, 4,372 Biracial students with disabilities, and 34,000 White students with disabilities. Continued Kahn-Pauli, “Recognizing the barriers and complexities that impact these students is a crucial responsibility for the next governor.”

While the candidates at the Forum did not directly address the disability community, many of the issues discussed have a direct impact on people with disabilities. Former nonprofit executive and federal official Baron called for vaccine requirements for Maryland’s teachers. Former Attorney General Doug Gansler also called for mandatory vaccinations for teachers, but keeping schools open as much as possible. He claimed it was “unfair” for students from poor environments to rely on technology and online school. Former US Secretary of Labor and Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez specifically talked about supporting mental health professionals. Other issues discussed at the forum included broadband access, financial literacy, discrimination, and career readiness programs.

Baron Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Maryland Governor’s Race

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more. Annapolis, MD, January 7 – Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former nonprofit executive and federal official Jon Baron responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does…

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Connecticut on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Hartford, CT, January 3 – This week, the Connecticut Governor’s Workforce Council met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Nutmeg State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 202,632 working age (18-64) Connecticuters living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 42.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that the Governor’s Workforce Council listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Gansler Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Maryland Governor’s Race

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more.

Annapolis, MD, December 28 – Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Attorney General Doug Gansler responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are over 669,000 people living with some form of disability in Maryland and their votes could be crucial in deciding who succeeds Larry Hogan as Governor of the Old Line State. 

Gansler is the second candidate in the upcoming Democratic primary to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility is actively communicating with all candidates in Maryland’s upcoming gubernatorial race.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Gansler’s responses follow:

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Arkansas on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Little Rock, AR, December 21 – Next month, the Arkansas Workforce Development Board will meet to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Natural State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 272,189 working age (18-64) Arkansans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 32.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Arkansas’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Ohio on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Springfield, OH, December 20 – This month, the Greater Ohio Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Buckeye State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 821,099 working age (18-64) Ohioans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 39.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Ohio’s state and local workforce development boards listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Mississippi on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Jackson, MS, December 20 – This week, the Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Magnolia State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 257,738 working age (18-64) Mississippians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 31.5 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Michigan on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Kalamazoo, MI, December 16 – This week, the Michigan Works! Southwest Local Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Great Lakes State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 725,431 working age (18-64) Michiganders living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 36.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that State and Local Workforce Development Boards listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Maine on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Portland, ME, December 15 – This week, the Maine State Workforce Development Board’s Commission on Disability and Employment met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Pine Tree State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than working age 112,518 (18-64) Mainers living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, only 36.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Maine’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Washington State on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Olympia, WA, December 15 – This week, the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Evergreen State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 478,673 working age (18-64) Washingtonians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 42 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Washington’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Vermont on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Burlington, VT, December 10 – This week, the Vermont Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Green Mountain State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 45,000 working age (18-64) Vermonters living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 41.5 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Vermont’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Delaware on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Dover, DE, December 10 – This week, the Strategic Planning Committee of the Delaware Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the First State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 66,000 working age (18-64) Delawareans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 40.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Delaware’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Massachusetts on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Boston, MA, December 9 – This week, the MassHire State Workforce Board (MSWB) met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Bay State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 374,000 working age (18-64) Bay Staters living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 41.4 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Massachusetts’ workforce board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Nebraska on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Lincoln, NE, December 8 – Last week, the Nebraska Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Cornhusker State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 110,000 working age (18-64) Nebraskans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Nebraska’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

RespectAbility Submits Testimony to Committee Developing New National Autism Plan

Washington, D.C., December 3 – This past month, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee dedicated to addressing policy issues impacting people on the autism spectrum, actively solicited public feedback to help develop a new 2021-2022 IACC Strategic Plan. In response, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of neurodiverse people in the workforce.

“I’m proud to serve on the Board of RespectAbility and support these extraordinarily helpful recommendations to enhance disability inclusion in the federal workforce. Simply put, the federal government needs to set a positive example as the country’s largest employer by adopting all the best practices that it tells the private sector to do through OFCCP and ODEP,” said Craig Lean, a board member of RespectAbility, a neurodiversity advocate, and former federal official.

Lean went on to add that: “The federal government should appoint a Chief Accessibility Officer of the United States, conduct annual self-audits of hiring, compensation, and promotions for individuals with disabilities, and develop neurodiversity and autism at work programs. Likewise, the federal government should commit to increased hiring of individuals with disabilities in all agencies, instead of leaving it up to the ad hoc discretion of individual agencies whether to do so. There is so much more that could be accomplished if the federal government would follow its own excellent advice to businesses.”

There are approximately 3.5 million Americans living on the autism spectrum and there are many more people who have yet to be diagnosed. Further, prevalence has been increasing over time and as of the 2020 school year there were approximately 717,000 students on the Autism spectrum in America’s K-12 system.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises California on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Sacremento, CA, December 1 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that California’s state workforce board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Alabama on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Birmingham, AL, December 1 – This week, the Alabama Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Yellowhammer State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 414,279 working age (18-64) Alabamians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 33.1 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Alabama’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Alaska on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Juneau, AK, December 1 – This week, the Alaska Workforce Investment Board’s Executive Committee will meet to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Las Frontier. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 44,762working age (18-64) Alaskans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Alaska’s Workforce Investment Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

New Draft Report Advances Critical Solutions around Voting Access for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., November 26 – This past month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft copy of their report looking at barriers and accessibility for voters with disabilities. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted a short letter and detailed data on where things stand for voters with disabilities after the 2020 election and looking ahead to the 2022 election cycle.  

“Our past voter survey work shows that 74 percent of likely voters are touched by disabilities,” said former Rep. Steve Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and is the immediate past Chairman of RespectAbility. “Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril. Some of the closest elections in recent years have been won by candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities. Glenn Youngkin did it in VirginiaSteve Daines did it in Montana, just as President Biden, and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did in Georgia. All of them made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities.” 

Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14019. This E.O. directed key federal agencies to dig into issues of “difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.” Looking closely at supporting voting access for communities of color and citizens with barriers to voting, such as disabilities, this Executive Order prompted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) solicited online, public feedback from constituents across the country.  

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises West Virginia on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Charleston, WV, November 24 – This week, the West Virginia Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Mountain State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 178,000 working age (18-64) West Virginians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 31.1 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that West Virginia’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.